Egypt's Pharaoh , fearful that the Israelites could be a fifth column , forces the Israelites into slavery and orders the throwing of all newborn boys into the Nile. A Levite woman Jochebed , according to other sources saves her baby by setting him adrift on the river Nile in an ark of bulrushes. The Pharaoh's daughter finds the child, names him Moses , and brings him up as her own. But Moses is aware of his origins, and one day, when grown, he kills an Egyptian overseer who is beating a Hebrew slave and has to flee into Midian.
There he marries Zipporah , the daughter of Midianite priest Jethro , and encounters God in a burning bush. Moses returns to Egypt and fails to convince the Pharaoh to release the Israelites. God smites the Egyptians with 10 terrible plagues Plagues of Egypt including a river of blood, many frogs, and the death of first-born sons. Moses leads the Israelites out of bondage after a final chase when the Pharaoh reneges on his coerced consent Crossing the Red Sea and Yam Suph.
The desert proves arduous, and the Israelites complain and long for Egypt, but God provides manna and miraculous water for them.
Enduring Word Bible Commentary Exodus Chapter 2
The Israelites arrive at the mountain of God, where Moses's father-in-law Jethro visits Moses; at his suggestion Moses appoints judges over Israel. God asks whether they will agree to be his people. They accept. The people gather at the foot of the mountain, and with thunder and lightning, fire and clouds of smoke, and the sound of trumpets, and the trembling of the mountain, God appears on the peak, and the people see the cloud and hear the voice [or possibly "sound"] of God.
God tells Moses to ascend the mountain. Moses goes up the mountain into the presence of God, who pronounces the Covenant Code a detailed code of ritual and civil law , and promises Canaan to them if they obey. Moses comes down the mountain and writes down God's words and the people agree to keep them.
God calls Moses up the mountain where he remains for 40 days and 40 nights.
At the conclusion of the 40 days and 40 nights, Moses returns holding the set of stone tablets. God gives Moses instructions for the construction of the tabernacle so that God could dwell permanently among his chosen people, as well as instructions for the priestly vestments , the altar and its appurtenances, the procedure for ordaining the priests, and the daily sacrifice offerings. Aaron becomes the first hereditary high priest. God gives Moses the two tablets of stone containing the words of the ten commandments, written with the "finger of God".
While Moses is with God, Aaron makes a golden calf , which the people worship. God informs Moses of their apostasy and threatens to kill them all, but relents when Moses pleads for them. Moses comes down from the mountain, smashes the stone tablets in anger, and commands the Levites to massacre the unfaithful Israelites. God commands Moses to make two new tablets on which He will personally write the words that were on the first tablets.
Moses ascends the mountain, God dictates the Ten Commandments the Ritual Decalogue , and Moses writes them on the tablets. Moses descends from the mountain with a transformed face; from that time onwards he has to hide his face with a veil. Moses assembles the Hebrews and repeats to them the commandments he has received from God, which are to keep the Sabbath and to construct the Tabernacle.
Jewish and Christian tradition viewed Moses as the author of Exodus and the entire Torah , but by the end of the 19th century the increasing awareness of discrepancies, inconsistencies, repetitions and other features of the Pentateuch had led scholars to abandon this idea. The story of the exodus is the founding myth of the Israelites, telling of their deliverance from slavery by Yahweh which made them his chosen people according to the Mosaic covenant.
- The Weathervane?
- Exodus 1 NIV - The Israelites Oppressed - These are - Bible Gateway;
- Literature, Gender, and Nation-Building in Nineteenth-Century Egypt: The Life and Works of `Aisha Taymur (Literatures and Cultures of the Islamic World).
Although mythical elements are not so prominent in Exodus as in Genesis , ancient legends may have an influence on the book's form or content: for example, the story of the infant Moses's salvation from the Nile is argued to be based on an earlier legend of king Sargon of Akkad , while the story of the parting of the Red Sea may trade on Mesopotamian creation mythology. Similarly, the Covenant Code the law code in Exodus — has some similarities in both content and structure with the Laws of Hammurabi.
These influences serve to reinforce the conclusion that the Book of Exodus originated in the exiled Jewish community of 6th-century BCE Babylon , but not all the sources are Mesopotamian: the story of Moses's flight to Midian following the murder of the Egyptian overseer may draw on the Egyptian Story of Sinuhe. Biblical scholars describe the Bible's theologically-motivated history writing as " salvation history ", meaning a history of God's saving actions that give identity to Israel — the promise of offspring and land to the ancestors, the exodus from Egypt in which God saves Israel from slavery , the wilderness wandering, the revelation at Sinai, and the hope for the future life in the promised land.
A theophany is a manifestation appearance of a god — in the Bible, an appearance of the God of Israel, accompanied by storms — the earth trembles, the mountains quake, the heavens pour rain, thunder peals and lightning flashes. The theophany is therefore a public experience of divine law. The second half of Exodus marks the point at which, and describes the process through which, God's theophany becomes a permanent presence for Israel via the Tabernacle. That so much of the book chapters 25—31, 35—40 describes the plans of the Tabernacle demonstrates the importance it played in the perception of Second Temple Judaism at the time of the text's redaction by the Priestly writers: the Tabernacle is the place where God is physically present, where, through the priesthood, Israel could be in direct, literal communion with him.
The heart of Exodus is the Sinaitic covenant. God elects Israel for salvation because the "sons of Israel" are "the firstborn son" of the God of Israel, descended through Shem and Abraham to the chosen line of Jacob whose name is changed to Israel. The goal of the divine plan in Exodus is a return to humanity's state in Eden , so that God can dwell with the Israelites as he had with Adam and Eve through the Ark and Tabernacle, which together form a model of the universe; in later Abrahamic religions Israel becomes the guardian of God's plan for humanity, to bring "God's creation blessing to mankind" begun in Adam.
The overwhelming consensus among scholars is that the Exodus story is best understood as a myth and does not accurately describe historical events. While all but the most conservative scholars reject the biblical account of the Exodus,  a majority still believes that the story has some historical basis,   with Kenton Sparks referring to it as "mythologized history.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Second book of the Bible. This article is about the second book of the Bible. For other uses, see Exodus. Genesis Exodus Leviticus Numbers Deuteronomy. Main article: Weekly Torah portion. Historical representations of the Stations of the Exodus. Bible portal. Methods for Exodus. Cambridge University Press. Barmash, Pamela In Barmash, Pamela; Nelson, W. David eds. Exodus in the Jewish Experience: Echoes and Reverberations. Lexington Books.
Childs, Brevard S The Book of Exodus. Collins, John J. Davies, Graham In Day, John ed. Dempster, Stephen G Dominion and Dynasty. InterVarsity Press. Hence this picture of earthly prosperity. God never forgets His people, although they may forget Him. Now another figure appears on the scene "a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph" v. The statement that he "knew not Joseph" is exceeding significant. Joseph in Egypt was a type of Christ in His earthly glory and consequently not to know him is characteristic of a moral state. Pharaoh in fact is the god of this world, and as such must of necessity be in antagonism to the Lord's people.
Accordingly we read at once of his crafty devices and malicious designs to destroy their prosperity, and to reduce them to helpless and hopeless bondage v. And what was his motive? Satan knows, what we are apt to forget, that the world must hate the children of God, and that they, if faithful, must be in antagonism to the world, and hence he in the person of Pharaoh seems to provide for the contingency of war, and to prevent their deliverance.
He therefore "set over them taskmasters, to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses. Note: Not even the site of these cities - although many conjectures are offered - can with any certainty be now identified. Thereby they are brought under bondage to the world, "and the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour: and they made their lives bitter with hard bondage" v.
The other side of the picture is, "The more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew" v. This arose from the fact already pointed out, that, whatever their condition, they were the people of promise, embraced in the purposes of God, and as such were watched over, shielded, and blessed; so that Pharaoh, as the god of this world, was powerless to accomplish their destruction. The real question was, as the issue shows, between God and Pharaoh; and the king of Egypt was, in his schemes against the children of Israel, fighting against God.
Hence his failure on every side. On the other hand, the condition of the Israelites portrays most strikingly the condition of the sinner - the sinner rather who has been made to feel the iron yoke of his slavery to sin and Satan. As with the prodigal, who falls lower and lower, until he is at the point of death and in utter degradation, before he comes to himself, so here God makes the children of Israel feel the weight of their burdens, and to taste the bitterness of their vile servitude, to awaken in them a desire for deliverance before He commences to act on their behalf.
There is such a thing as the sinner being insensible to his degradation, and contented, if not happy, in his alienation from God; but if he is to be saved he must pass through the experience which is foreshadowed by this account of the condition of the Israelites. Until then, he never knows his real state, or desires deliverance. The rest of the chapter v. But again there is the activity of another on their behalf. Pharaoh was an absolute king, and none of his subjects dared to oppose his will; but even these feeble women are sustained in their disobedience, because they judged it their first duty to fear God.
The mightiest monarch in the world is powerless as against God, and equally so against those who are identified with God and His people. Hence Shiphrah and Puah "did not as the king of Egypt commanded" v. We may therefore learn, first, the utter impotence of the enemy to frustrate the purposes of God; secondly, the invincibility of those who are connected with His purposes; thirdly, how the fear of God can lift the feeblest and humblest above the fear of man; and then, last of all, how grateful to the heart of God is every sign of fidelity to Him in the midst of a scene where Satan reigns, as the god of this world, and oppresses and seeks to destroy His people.
But Pharaoh's enmity increases, and he "charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive" v. The next chapter will show us how God used this very decree of the king to prepare a deliverer for His people. THIS chapter, full of interest, is made more attractive to the spiritual mind by the divine commentary which is given in Hebrews 11 upon its main incidents.
Here it is a simple record of the human side of the actions recorded; there it is rather the divine side, or the estimate which God formed of the deeds of His people. It is only, therefore, by the combination of these two aspects that we can glean the instruction which is thus afforded. As in the case of the birth of our blessed Lord at Bethlehem, so here, little did the parents or the world around understand the significance of the birth of the son of Amram and Jochebed. It is thus that God always works, noiselessly laying the foundation of His purposes, and preparing His instruments until the moment, before determined, arrives for action, and then He makes bare His arm in the display of His presence and power in the face of the world.
But we must trace the events of the chapter. And the woman conceived, and bare a son; and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months" v. How simply beautiful this natural scene! And how well our hearts can enter into the feelings of this Jewish mother! The king had commanded that every son that was born should be cast into the river ; but what mother could con sent to give up her child to death?
All the affections of her heart would revolt from it. But, alas! Turn to the inspired comment in the New Testament: "By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment" Heb. True, they owed allegiance to their earthly sovereign, but they also owed allegiance to the Lord of lords, and trusting in Him they were lifted above all fear of the king's commandment, and concealed their child - the child whom God had given to them - for three months. They counted upon God, and they were not confounded; for He never leaves or forsakes them that put their trust in Him.
This is a most blessed action of faith, and in a twofold way. With their eye upon God, they dared to be disobedient to the king's wicked command, and they were fearless of the consequences. The rulers of this world are powerless in the presence of those who are linked with God by the exercise of faith. The time, however, came when this "proper child" could no longer be hid v. But faith is never wanting in resources. We accordingly find that "she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river's brink.
And his sister stood afar off to wit what would be done to him" v. As with Isaac and Samuel, so likewise with Moses, death must be known, at least in figure, by the parents, both for themselves and for their child before he can become an instrument in service for God. It is not a little remarkable, in this connection, that the word here used for ark is not found elsewhere in the Scriptures, except for the ark in which Noah and his house were brought through the flood.
There is another resemblance. The ark of Noah was pitched within and without with pitch. Jochebed daubs this ark with slime and pitch. Yet she thereby confessed the need of redemption, her faith owned it, and thus her ark of bulrushes, containing its precious freight, floated in safety amid the flags upon this river of death.
There may not have been divine intelligence, but there was true faith, and this ever finds a response in the heart of God. Remark, also, that the sister, and not the mother, watches for the issue. This might easily be explained on human grounds, but is there not another solution? The mother believed, and could consequently rest in peace, although the child, dearer to her than life itself, was exposed upon the river.
We now pass on to consider the action of God in response to the faith of His people. It is exceedingly beautiful and instructive to see God thus behind the scene arranging all for His own glory. The daughter of Pharaoh was acting from her own inclination, and for her own pleasure, and knew not that she was an instrument of the divine will. But everything - her going down to the river to bathe, the time of her doing so - all was according to the purpose of God in respect of the child who was to be the deliverer of His people.
Accordingly she saw the ark, had it fetched, opened it, and saw the child; "and, behold, the babe wept" v. Even the tears of the babe had their object, and they were not shed in vain; they excited the compassion of this royal woman, as she said, comprehending the secret, "This is one of the Hebrews' children" v. The sister who had been anxiously watching to see what might become of her baby-brother, receives the word of wisdom at this critical juncture, and said, "Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee?
And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child's mother" v. The child Moses, who had been exposed on the river in consequence of the king of Egypt 's decree, is thus restored to his mother under the protection of Pharaoh's daughter. And there he remained until he had grown, and then Jochebed "brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son.
And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water" v. His very name shall declare the power of Him who had saved him from death, brought him out of the waters of judgment in His sovereign grace and love. Thus the man of God's choice, the one He had marked out as His chosen instrument for the deliverance of His people, and to become the mediator of His covenant with them, finds shelter under the roof of Pharaoh. Another epoch of his life is now presented to us.
Forty years had passed away before the incident occurred which is described in the eleventh and following verses. And he looked this way and that way, and, when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand. And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow? And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known.
Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. As we read this narrative, it might be supposed that the act of Moses, in killing the Egyptian, was nothing beyond the impulse of a generous heart, feeling the injustice which was done, and interfering to avenge it. But what is the interpretation of this act by the Spirit of God? By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing Him who is invisible" Heb. We must, however, carefully guard ourselves from concluding that the Spirit of God endorses all that the narrative records in Exodus.
No doubt Moses acted in the energy of the flesh; but though he had not as yet learned his own nothingness and incompetency, he yet desired to act for God; and it is from the epistle to the Hebrews we learn the true character of his actions before God. That there was failure is clear; but it was the failure of a man of faith, whose actions were precious in the sight of God, because he was enabled, in the exercise of faith, to refuse all that might have tempted the natural man, and to identify himself with the interests of God's people.
But this passage in his life demands a more particular notice. First, then, it was by faith that he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter. What else, indeed, could have led to the renunciation of such a splendid position? Besides, he might have argued, he had been placed in it by a most singular and striking providence. Might it not be therefore that he should occupy it, and use the influence connected with it, on behalf of his downtrodden brethren?
Why, he might succeed in securing the whole influence of the court on behalf of his nation; would it not be, then, to fly in the face of Providence, to forsake such a vantage-ground? But Providence, as has been often remarked, is no guide to faith. Faith deals with things not seen, and hence seldom agrees with the conclusions that are drawn from providential events and circumstances.
No; the influence of the god of this world Pharaoh can never be employed to deliver the Lord's people; and faith can never be sheltered by or identified with it.
Faith has God for its object, and must therefore be identified with what belongs to God, and be in antagonism with all that is opposed to God. As another has said, "How many reasons might have induced Moses to remain in the position where he was, and this even under the pretext of being able to do more for the people; but this would have been leaning on the power of Pharaoh, instead of recognizing the bond between the people and God: it might have resulted in a relief which the world would have granted, but not in a deliverance by God, accomplished in His love and in His power.
Moses would have been spared much affliction, but lost his true glory; Pharaoh flattered, and his authority over the people of God recognized; and Israel would have remained in captivity, leaning on Pharaoh, instead of recognizing God in the precious and even glorious relationship of His people with Him. God would not have been glorified; yet all human reasoning, and all reasoning connected with providential ways, would have induced Moses to remain in his position; faith made him give it up.
Identification with them had more attractions for his faithful heart than the pleasures of sin; for faith views everything in the light of God's presence. Yea, he rose still higher; he esteemed the reproach of Christ - the reproach arising from identification with Israel - greater riches than the treasures in Egypt ; for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.
Faith thus lives in the future, as well as in the unseen. It is the assurance of things hoped for, and the conviction of things not seen; and hence it governed, controlled, the heart and path of Moses. It was faith, then, that actuated him when "he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens" v. And so it was to be, but the time had not yet arrived, nor could God yet employ Moses - precious as his faith was in His sight. When, therefore, he went out the second day, and seeing two Hebrews striving together, sought to reconcile them, he is taunted with killing the Egyptian, and is himself rejected v.
Pharaoh too heard of what he had done, and sought to slay him. He is thus rejected by his brethren, and persecuted by the world. From this point he becomes a type of Christ in his rejection; for he is rejected by the people whom he loved, and becomes in his flight separated from his brethren. But God provided His servant a home, and a wife in one of the daughters of Jethro Reuel. Zipporah is thus in figure a type of the church, for she is associated with Moses during the time of his rejection by Israel.
But the heart of Moses is still with his people, and hence he names his son Gershom; "for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land" v. Joseph, on the other hand, names his sons Manasseh - "for God hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house;" and Ephraim - "for God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.
If Joseph presents us with Christ as raised through death to the right hand of the throne over the Gentiles, and thereon disclosing Himself to, and receiving His brethren, Moses gives us Christ more exclusively as the Redeemer of Israel; and hence, though he marries during the time of his rejection, and is thus in some sort a figure of Christ and the church in this dispensation, his heart is still with the children of Israel, and therefore he is a stranger in a strange land.
The last three verses bring before us the condition of the people, and reveal at the same time the faithfulness and compassion of God. They belong rather to the next chapter. MOSES was no less than forty years in the wilderness, learning the lessons he needed for his future work, and being qualified to act for God as the deliverer of His people.
What a contrast to his former life at the court of Pharaoh. There he was surrounded with all the luxury and refinement of his age; here he is a simple shepherd, keeping the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law. Forty is the number of probation, as seen, for example, in the forty years in the wilderness of the children of Israel ; also in the forty days' temptation of our blessed Lord.
It was therefore a time of testing - testing what Moses was, as well as a time for him to prove what God was; and these two things must ever be learnt before we are qualified for service. Hence God always sends His servants into the wilderness before employing them for the accomplishment of His purposes.
Nowhere else can we be brought so fully into the presence of God. It is there, alone with Him, that we discover the utter vanity of human resources, and our entire dependence upon Himself. And very blessed is it to be withdrawn from the busy haunts of men, and to be shut in, as it were, with God, to learn in communion with Himself His own thoughts concerning ourselves, concerning His interests and service.
Indeed it is a continual necessity for every true servant to be much alone with God; and where this is forgotten, God often brings it about, in the tenderness of His heart, by the disciplinary dealings of His hand. The time at length arrives when God can begin to interfere for His people. But let us recall the connection. In the first chapter the people are seen in their bondage; in the second, Moses is born, and introduced into the house of Pharaoh.
Then he casts in his lot with the people of God, and in the warmth of his affection seeks to remedy their wrongs; but, rejected, he flees into the desert. After forty years, being now eighty years old, he is to be sent back into Egypt. The third and fourth chapters contain the account of his mission from God, and of his unwillingness to be thus employed. But before this is reached, there is a short preface at the end of the second chapter - which really belongs to the third as to its connection - which reveals the ground on which God was acting for the redemption of His people.
First, it tells us that the king of Egypt died, but his death brought no alleviation of the condition of the children of Israel. On the other hand, they "sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God, by reason of the bondage. But God was not insensible, for He "heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob: And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them" Their condition touched the heart of God, drew forth His pitying mercies, but the ground on which He acted was His own sovereign grace, as expressed in the covenant He had made with their fathers.
It was this same mercy, and His faithfulness to His ward, which both Mary and Zacharias celebrated in their songs of praise in connection with the birth of the Saviour, and of His forerunner John. It is impossible that God should forget His word, and if He delay to accomplish it, it is only for the brighter display of His unchanging grace and love. Having, then, laid the foundation in these few words, the next scene brings before us the dealings of God with Moses. And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed" ,2.
It is most interesting to trace the appearings of God to His people, and to note how the manner of each is related to the special circumstances of the case. See Gen. Here it is strikingly significant as connected with the mission on which Moses was about to be sent. There are three parts to the vision thus vouchsafed - the Lord, the flame of fire, and the bush.
Observe, first, that it is said the angel of the Lord appeared unto Moses v. Compare Gen. The angel of the Lord is thus identified with Jehovah, yea, with God Himself; and there is no doubt that in all these appearings of the angel of the Lord in the Old Testament Scriptures, we behold the shadowing forth of the coming incarnation of the Son of God, and hence that, in all these cases, it is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity - God the Son.
The flame of fire is a symbol of the holiness of God. This is shown in various ways, especially in the fire on the altar, which consumed the sacrifices; and in the epistle to the Hebrews we have the express statement that "our God is a consuming fire;" i. The bush was meant to be a figure of Israel. There is nothing more easily consumed by fire than a bush; and it was chosen on this very account to represent the nation of Israel - the nation of Israel in the furnace of Egypt - the fire burning fiercely round about it, and yet not destroying it.
It was therefore a consolatory assurance to the heart of Moses - if he could read it aright - that his nation would be preserved however fiercely the fire might burn. In the language of another, "it was meant to be an image of that which was presented to the spirit of Moses - a bush in a desert, burning, but unconsumed. It was no doubt thus that God was about to work in the midst of Israel. Moses and they must know it. They too would be the chosen vessel of His power in their weakness, and this for ever in His mercy.
Their God, as ours, would prove Himself a consuming fire. Solemn, but infinite favour! For, on the one hand, as surely as He is a consuming fire, so on the other the bush, weak as it is, and ready to vanish away, nevertheless remains to prove that, whatever may be the siftings and judicial dealings of God, whatever the trials and searchings of man, yet where He reveals Himself in pitifulness, as well as in power and such it certainly was here , He sustains the object, and uses the trial for nothing but good, no doubt for His own glory, but consequently for the very best interests of those that are, His.
Moses was attracted, as well he might be, by " this great sight," and "he turned aside to see" v. Then it was that God called to him out of the bush, and called him by name. But he must be reminded of the holiness of the divine presence. Compare Numbers ; Joshua , etc. This is the first lesson which all who approach God must learn - the recognition of His holiness.
Book of Exodus
True, He is a God of grace, of mercy, and also that He is love; but He is all these because He is a holy God, and He could never have manifested Himself in these blessed characters, had it not been that in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ mercy and truth met together, and righteousness and peace kissed each other.
But unless our feet are unshod - remembering the holiness of Him with whom we have to do - we can never receive the gracious communications of His mind and will. Thereon Jehovah announces the purpose of His manifestation to Moses. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto Me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.
Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt " v. The order of this communication is most instructive. His own character is the foundation of all His actings. It is exceedingly strengthening to the soul to learn this lesson - that God ever finds His motive within Himself. It is on the ground of what He is, and not on the ground of what we are. Compare Eph. What infinite tenderness! There is not a word to show that the children of Israel had cried to the Lord.
They had sighed and cried by reason of their bondage, but it does not appear that their hearts had turned to the Lord. But their misery had touched His heart, He "knew their sorrows, and was come down to deliver them. There is nothing here between Egypt and Canaan. The wilderness does not appear. In like manner, in Romans we read, "Whom He justified, them He also glorified. It belongs to His ways, and not to His purposes; for it is in the wilderness that the flesh is tested, that we learn what we are as well as what God is. See Deuteronomy 8. But as far as God's purposes are concerned, there is nothing between redemption and glory.
So in the actual fact, there were only eleven days' journey from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea Deut. The Lord had heard the cry of the people, though not addressed to Himself, and seen their oppression, and therefore He will send Moses unto Pharaoh that he may bring them forth out of Egypt v. We now come to a most sad exhibition of failure on the part of Moses.
When in Egypt he ran before he was sent; he thought that, in the energy of his own will, he could emancipate his brethren, or at least redress their wrongs. But now, after forty years spent in "the flesh-subduing solitudes" of the desert, he not only is unwilling to be employed upon the magnificent mission with which the Lord would entrust him, but he raises objection after objection until he wearies the tender patience and long-suffering of Jehovah, and His anger is kindled against Moses But every fresh failure of Moses proves the occasion for the display of greater grace - even though in the event Moses suffered through his whole life from his backwardness in obeying the voice of the Lord.
Miserable history of the flesh! Now it is too forward, and now it is too backward. There is only One who was ever found equal to all God's will - who always did the things that pleased Him - and that was the perfect servant, the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us glance at this series of difficulties which Moses raises. But it is also right that we should think much of God.
For when He sends it is not a question of what we are, but of what He is - and it is no small thing to be invested with His authority and power. This objection therefore was nothing but distrust. The presence of the Lord was to be both the warrant for his mission and the source of his strength. As the Lord said in after days to Joshua, "I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage" Josh. The Lord knows the need of His servant, and provides for his weakness by giving a token which should reassure him - should the subtlety of his heart lead him into doubt, - so that he might be able to say, "Now I have a proof of my divine mission.
Listen to his answer:. God had already revealed Himself to Moses as the God of his fathers - and this might have been enough, but nothing can ever satisfy doubts and fears. And what an incidental glimpse is thus given of the condition of Israel, so as to render the supposition possible that they might not know the name of the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob!
This is the expression of the essential being of God - His name as the self-existent One; and thereby affirms His eternal being. But this is not all. Having revealed Himself as to His essential existence, He adds, "Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is My name for ever, and this is My memorial unto all generations" v. This is pure grace on the part of God.
This gave Israel, now visited and taken up of God under His name, a very peculiar place. Hence, as long as Israel is under judgment, scattered throughout the world, the period of earthly blessing is still postponed. It was consequently in this name that God was come down to deliver; for as soon as He assumes it, He graciously allows that the people, whom He has thus brought into relationship with Himself, have a claim upon His mercy and compassion. Hence the detailed instructions which are now given to Moses v. First, Moses is enjoined to assemble the elders of Israel, that he may announce to them, that the Lord God of their fathers had appeared to him, and communicated to him the purposes of His grace towards them, in bringing them up out of the affliction of Egypt unto a land flowing with milk and honey v.
He is foretold that they would hearken to his voice, and that he and they should no together unto Pharaoh, to ask for permission to go three days' journey into the wilderness, that they might sacrifice unto the Lord their God v. He then is forewarned of the stubborn opposition of Pharaoh; but he is likewise told that God would Himself deal with the Egyptian king, and compel him to let them go; and, furthermore, that when they went out they should not go empty, but that they should spoil the Egyptians v.
Note: As there has been some controversy upon the statement, here and in v. There is no idea of "borrowing" in it. It means simply "to ask. What they gave was therefore an unconditional gift. These instructions are important for all time; for they place beyond a doubt the exact foreknowledge of God. He knew with whom He had to deal, the resistance to be met with, and how it was to be overcome. He saw all things from the beginning to the end. How consolatory to our feeble hearts! Not a difficulty or trial can befall us which has not been foreseen by our God, and for which in His grace provision has not been made!
Everything has been prearranged in view of our final triumph, and of our victorious exit from this scene, through the display of His redeeming power, to be for ever with the Lord? Surely Moses might now have been contented. Could unbelief be more presumptuous? The Lord had said, "They shall hearken to thy voice. But He is slow to anger and of great mercy; and truly this scene is full of beauty as revealing the depths of the tenderness and long-suffering of His patient heart.
He will therefore bear with His servant, condescend still more, and give even miraculous signs to strengthen him in his weakness, and to dispel his unbelief. And he said, A rod. And He said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it. And the Lord said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail.
And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand: that they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee" Two more signs are even added.
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His hand, on putting it into his bosom and taking it out, became "leprous as snow;" and on repeating the act "it was turned again as his other flesh" v. Then, in case they should not hearken to the first, or to the second sign, a third was added. He was to take water out of the river, and pour it upon the dry ground, and it should become blood upon the dry land v. These signs are significant, and especially so, it should be observed, in relation to the matter in hand.
A rod in Scripture is the symbol of authority - power. Cast down, it became a serpent. A serpent is the well-known emblem of Satan; and hence it was power become Satanic, and this was exactly what was seen in Egypt in the oppression of the children of Israel. But Moses puts forth his hand, at the word of the Lord, and takes the serpent by the tail, and again it becomes a rod.
The power that had thus become Satanic, resumed by God, becomes a rod of chastening or judgment. Hence this rod, in the hands of Moses, becomes henceforward the rod of God's authority and judicial power. Leprosy is a figure of sin in its defilement, sin in the flesh breaking out and defiling, with its pollutions, the whole man. The second sign therefore presents us with sin and its healing, effected, as we know, only by the death of Christ.
The blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanseth from all sin. Water represents that which refreshes - source of life and refreshment as coming from God; but, as poured out on the earth, become judgment and death. Armed with such signs, Moses might surely return and convince the most hardened doubter. Nay, he is not yet himself convinced; and hence he now replies,. This objection shows most conclusively that self was the beam in his eye that obstructed the vision of faith.
For was it his eloquence or the Lord's power that would effect the emancipation of Israel? He speaks as if all depended upon the persuasive words of human wisdom, as if his appeal was to be made by human art to the natural man. How common the mistake, even in the Church of God! Hence eloquence is that which even Christians desire - giving it a place beyond the power of God. The pulpits of Christendom are thus filled with men who are not of a slow tongue, and even the saints who in theory know the truth are beguiled and attracted by splendid gifts, and take pleasure in their exercise apart from the truth communicated.
How different was the thought of St Paul. It is on this account that God often uses the "slow of speech" far more than those who are eloquent; for there is no temptation in such cases to lean upon the wisdom of men, all beholding that it is the power of God. It is this lesson - a lesson which contains at the same time a withering rebuke - that Jehovah now teaches Moses. Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say" v. The servant could not require more; but the danger lies in forgetting that the mode in which the Lord may employ us may not bring honour to ourselves.
The servant must learn to be nothing that the Lord alone may be exalted. But Moses evidently desired to be something himself, and overwhelmed by the prospect, and, it may also be, borne down by the sense of his incompetency, notwithstanding all the grace and condescension of the Lord, he desires to be excused from so difficult a mission. He therefore says,. That is, "Send any one, but not me. I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee; and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart. And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do.
And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God. And thou shalt take this rod in thine hand, where with thou shalt do signs" v. Thus the halting of Moses was overcome, but not until the anger of the Lord was kindled against him on account of his unwillingness to obey His word; but he lost much. Aaron was henceforward to be associated with him, and indeed was to have the most prominent place before man; for he was to be the spokesman of his brother.
In tender grace, however, the Lord reserves to His servant Moses the chief place before Him, giving him the honour and privilege of being the medium of communication between Himself and Aaron. Aaron was to be a "mouth" for Moses; Moses was to be to Aaron "instead of God;" i. The purposes of God cannot be frustrated; but we may suffer from our obstinacy and disobedience.
It was so with Moses. How many times afterwards, during the forty years' sojourn in the wilderness, must he have bewailed the unbelief that led him to refuse the trust which the Lord desired to commit to his hands alone! Finally, the rod of authority is given to Moses - the rod wherewith he was to display the power of God in miraculous signs as an attestation of his mission.
This rod plays a most important part throughout the career of Moses, and it is most instructive to trace the occasions of its appearance and use. Here it becomes, as it were, the seal of his mission, as well as the sign of his office; for in very truth he was invested with the authority of God to lead His people out of the land of Egypt.
Moses now returns to seek the permission of Jethro to return into Egypt. God had prepared the way, and hence Jethro consents, saying to Moses, "Go in peace:" v. The Lord watches over His servant, notes the feelings of his heart, and even anticipates his fears by saying, "Go, return into Egypt : for all the men are dead which sought thy life. Thereupon the Lord further instructs him, and even reveals to him the character of the final judgment through which He would compel Pharaoh to let His people go.
Even more: He now teaches him the true relationship into which He had by grace taken Israel. For the first time is this revelation made: " Israel is My son, even My firstborn;" and it is this which decides the character of the stroke which should fall upon Egypt. One thing now only remains to qualify Moses for his mission. There must be faithfulness within the circle of his own responsibility before he can be made the channel of divine power. Obedience at home must precede the display of power to the world.
This explains the following incident: "And it came to pass, by the way in the inn, that the Lord met him, and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me. So He let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision" v.
Moses had neglected, from what cause we know not - it may be through the influence of his wife - the circumcision of his child; and hence the Lord had a personal controversy with him, which must be settled before he could appear before Pharaoh with divine authority. The Lord thus laid him low, dealt with him, brought his failure to remembrance that he might judge it, and return to the path of obedience.
To borrow the language of another: "God was going to put honour on Moses; but there was a dishonour to Him in the house of Moses already. How came it that the sons of Moses were not circumcised? How came it that there lacked that which typifies the mortifying the flesh in those who were nearest to Moses? How came it that God's glory was forgotten in that which ought to have been prominent in a father's heart? It appears that the wife had something to do with the matter In fact she at last was obliged to do what she most hated, as she herself said in her son's case.
But more than that, it endangered Moses; for God had the controversy with him, not with his wife. Moses was the responsible person, and God held to His order. The two parts of Moses' qualification, then, were divine authority and personal condition; and these two ought never to be disjoined. For all who would speak in the name of the Lord, or be employed by Him in any service whatever, it is of the utmost importance that they should remember this. Nothing can compensate for the lack of condition of soul.
Herein lies in fact the secret of our feebleness in service. If our ways, or, as in the case of Moses, our houses, are unjudged, the Spirit of God is grieved, and as a consequence we are not used for blessing. It is not enough therefore to have the words of God in our mouth; but we must be walking with their power in our own souls, if we are to speak with the demonstration of the Spirit and of power.
All is now ready; and accordingly we have a beautiful scene at the end of the chapter - a scene which must have gladdened the heart of Moses, and, with the blessing of God, nerved him for the arduous path on which he had entered. First, however, the Lord sent Aaron "into the wilderness to meet Moses. And he went, and met him in the mount of God, and kissed him. And Moses told Aaron all the words of the Lord who had sent him, and all the signs which He had commanded him:" v.
The place of their meeting is most significant. It was in the mount of God , i. Horeb, that the Lord appeared to Moses; here now Aaron meets him; and it was in this same place that Moses afterwards received the two tables of stone, with the Ten Commandments written with the finger of God. Leaving this, however, now, it may be remarked - for it contains a most practical lesson - that it is ever most blessed when relatives can meet in the mount of God.
Then, as with Moses and Aaron, the conversation will be upon "the words of the Lord," and the meeting will issue in blessing. If, on the other hand, we descend to a lower level, as is too often the case, our communications will be rather concerning ourselves and our own doings, and this will result neither in glory to God nor in profit to ourselves.
Remark, too, that it is from the mount of God they proceed on their mission. Blessed are those servants who go directly from the presence of God to their labours. Coming into Egypt, they "went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel : and Aaron spake all the words which the Lord had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people. And the people believed: and when they heard that the Lord had visited the children of Israel, and that He had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped" v.
The word of the Lord was thus fulfilled. Moses had said, "They will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice. True that afterwards, when their difficulties increased, they murmured in their unbelief; but this cannot diminish from the beauty of the picture before us, wherein we see the word of the Lord, in all its freshness and power, reaching the hearts of the elders, and bowing them in adoration in His presence. THESE two chapters occupy a special place in the narrative.
They are really of a prefatory nature, introductory to Jehovah's conflict with Pharaoh by judgments. They are at the same time most instructive as illustrating the ways of God. The message is delivered in grace, the opportunity for obedience is proffered - God waiting in patience and long-suffering before His hand is lifted up in judgment. It is even so with the world at the present time.
Now is the time of God's forbearance and grace, during which the message of His mercy is proclaimed far and wide, and whosoever will may hear, believe, and be saved. But this day of grace is hastening on to its close, and the moment the Lord Jesus rises from His seat at the Father's right hand, the door will be shut, and judgments will begin to fall.
In like manner these two chapters describe, so to speak, the day of grace for Pharaoh. But while the king of Egypt was a man, he was also, in the position he occupied, as already pointed out, a type of Satan as the god of this world. There is, therefore, further instruction to be gleaned from these chapters in this aspect, and it is this aspect indeed that occupies the prominent place. This will be seen as we proceed. I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go. And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days' journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the Lord our God; lest He fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword.
And the king of Egypt said unto them, Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let hinder the people from their works? And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and we make them rest from their burdens" v.
Exodus 12 – God Institutes Passover
The question, be it remembered, is that of the redemption of Israel ; and hence it is one in which the people could have no part. God must act for them; and He it is consequently that enters into controversy with Pharaoh. Pharaoh, as the god of this world, Satan, holds the people in bondage. It is God's purpose to deliver them; the message therefore entrusted to Moses is for the ear of the Egyptian king. And what is the object of God in the emancipation of Israel?
It is for the satisfaction of His own heart. How marvellous that the joy of God is concerned in our salvation! The delivery of the message brings out the true character of Pharaoh: " Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? Solemn position! And this antagonism was never lessened, but went on until it ended in the overthrow and destruction of Pharaoh and his legions. A warning lesson, surely; for all who are unreconciled to God, as well as a revelation of the awful corruption of human nature, which can thus impiously confront, and audaciously defy, the power of God.
Nor was this the transient expression of an irritated mind. For, in reply to the continued appeal of Moses and Aaron, he charged them with interfering with the work of the people. The god of this world is the incarnation of selfishness, and must therefore hate God. This was exemplified at Philippi. The moment the preaching and action of the apostle interfered with the gains of the masters of the damsel who was possessed with the spirit of divination, it drew down upon him and his companion their bitterest enmity.
So with Pharaoh. The prospect of losing the service of his slaves fills him with anger. The effect was that he increased the tasks of the people, laid upon them heavier burdens, in order to rivet more firmly than ever the fetters of their bondage. It is ever so. But spite of the power and subtlety of Satan, he always defeats himself. Indeed he has no foresight. He cannot see into the future any more than ourselves, and as a consequence he is continually overreaching himself. The people were idle Pharaoh said , and "therefore they cry, saying, Let us go and sacrifice to our God" v.
He desired accordingly that increased work should drive all such thoughts out of their minds. Satan will compass land and sea to prevent even one of his poor slaves escaping from his service.
Hence if a soul is convicted of sin, and begins to yearn after liberty and peace with God, to escape from Egypt and to be saved, Satan will surround that soul with a thousand snares, fascinations, and entanglements. He will seek, just as Pharaoh did with the children of Israel, by increased occupation, by decoying him into a whirl of excitement or activity, to expel all such desires from his mind. If one such should read these pages, let him beware of these subtleties of the evil one, and let him turn resolutely away from all these wiles which are but intended to lure him to destruction; yea, let him, in the consciousness of all his need, and all his helplessness, look away to Him who through death has abrogated the rights of him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, that He might deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage Heb.
Believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, all such will be turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. The officers of Pharaoh were faithful, and mercilessly discharged their merciless duty v. The iron of oppression entered into the souls of the children of Israel, and in the bitterness of their hearts they "cried unto Pharaoh, saying, Wherefore dealest thou thus with thy servants? But they cried in vain; for mercy is unknown to Satan, to him whose pleasure is found even in the sorrows of his servants.
Disappointed in not finding relief at the hands of Pharaoh, they turned in their anger upon Moses and Aaron, and charged them with being the occasion of increasing the pressure of their servitude. How true this is also in individual experience. In the bitter exercises through which the awakened sinner often passes, when he is overwhelmed by the sense of his guilt, and is made at the same time to feel the heavier weight of Satan's hand, how often he is tempted to wish for the days when he was free from all such conflicts and sorrows, not seeing that they are the pathway to deliverance.
Even Moses bows for the moment before the storm. Yearning, as he doubtless did, for the welfare and redemption of his people, and stung by their reproaches, doubt springs up before this new phase of Pharaoh's policy, and becoming impatient, he said, "Lord, wherefore hast Thou so evil entreated this people?
David Guzik :: Study Guide for Exodus 12
Why is it that Thou hast sent me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast Thou delivered Thy people at all" v. Moses thus shared in the disappointment and impatience of the people. He had not yet learned to walk by faith and not by sight, nor to rest in the Lord and to wait patiently for Him. But yet even his failure arose from sympathy with the oppressed Israelites; and one of the first qualifications to help others is identification with their condition.
So far Moses had fellowship with the mind of the Lord; and He understood the thoughts of His servant's heart. He therefore commissions him anew, and again declares His purposes of grace and mercy, announcing His immutable fidelity to His covenant Already He had accomplished two things; He had taught both Moses and the people the character of their oppressor, and the nature of their yoke.
He had seemingly shut them up into Pharaoh's hand, and thereby produced in them a conviction of the hopelessness of their condition. This is uniformly His method. He never presents Himself as a Saviour until men know that they are guilty and undone. The Lord Jesus said, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
It is so here. The children of Israel are apparently in a worse case than before; they are despairing, and so is Moses. Thereon we have the blessed presentation and announcement of chapter 6.